Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Murder Mysteries

Murder Mysteries
Murder Mysteries by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up while trawling the library shelves for books my nephew might enjoy. I knew I had read it, but couldn't remember anything about it. It had been a long time since I'd read it.

Very soon after opening this volume I realized two things: I wasn't going to put it down until I'd finished, and this is amazingly not young reader appropriate. I look forward to sharing this with my nephew when he's older; it is an outstanding story, well told in this format.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Intersectionality of Dreaming, Coffee and the Subconscious

First, some background - despite being raised in a coffee-drinking household, I never developed a taste for it. I did, and do, love the smell of really good coffee beans, but never cared for the taste. My caffeine vehicle of choice is Dr. Pepper, or tea.

Last week I had very vivid dreams of mostly mundane things, like walking in a park, talking to friends, and enjoying a tasty warm drink. The drink was the odd thing. In the dream I knew it was a very high quality Irish coffee bean (I'd been reading an author (who's main character is Irish) write about coffee). I ground the beans, brewed the coffee in a french press, let it cool a bit, then enjoyed a rich, nuanced, slightly sweet drink. I woke up craving coffee. I've been craving coffee, to greater and lesser degrees, ever since.

My workplace has a big coffee machine that stays busy. I'm told the coffee is pretty good quality, and there's enough people making and drinking coffee that it never sits for very long. Last Friday I made a cup of coffee with sugar and French vanilla creamer - and couldn't decide if I liked the taste or not. Did I put up with the coffee flavor to enjoy the sweet vanilla? Or did the coffee actually make it better? Clearly, this wasn't a sufficient test to be sure.

This morning I poured myself a cup of black coffee. I let it cool a bit, and it tasted foul. Total yuck city. Did this convince my bizarre subconscious? No, not at all. Now I'm thinking I need to try some kind of really high quality coffee. This part of my psyche is convinced that not liking break room coffee doesn't give coffee a fair chance.

Perhaps I'm trying to re-create the flavor experience from the dream. Perhaps there is a coffee lover in me waiting to blossom. Most likely this part of my psyche is certifiably nuts, but is all good. There are worse ways to be crazy :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gratitude List

I'm feeling cranky - I need to remember what's going well

~waking up early enough to have breakfast with mah peeps
~Blogger lets me know when I forget to close an HTML tag
~home made lemon pineapple jam - so good on a whole wheat mini-bagel!
~I'm getting an ARC of Ian Doescher's Empire Striketh Back!!!
~The customer service from Zappos is quite outstanding
~The rain stopped before I had to go out this morning
~my hair feels wonderful
~I got actual pen-and-paper postal mail today!
~took a walk during my lunch break
~took some snapshots while walking at lunch time (posted a couple below)
~I'll have clean warm socks by tomorrow morning
~I'm working on a couple really nifty knitting projects
~Listening to Tim Curry narrate an audiobook
Aaahhh... Better :)


Shadow selfie!

Monday, February 17, 2014

More knitting Saturday and today

Saturday I did gauge swatches for this neckerchief ( Today I cast on and started knitting - yay!  I'm looking forward to the color work. I've not done multi-colored knitting in quite a while. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Yesterday's knitting

Yesterday I started the gague swatch for a new portable knitting project. Once I get that measured, I'll cast on and start knitting in earnest :) Ideally I'll get some good pictures today. Given how very pink and fuzzy this yarn is, I'll need some excellent lighting to capture anything clearer than a pink blob!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I hate shoe shopping.

I almost certainly lose femme points for hating shoe shopping, but that's okay. I don't have particularly femme feet. Don't get me wrong - I don't hate shoes on principal, for all that I'm prone to barefootedness at home. I could comment on how the footwear expectations of women are a part of the patriarchy, how high heels damage your legs and back, or even the link between pointy-toed shoes and marmoset habitat destruction (granted, I made that one up). However, none of these things really play into my deep and abiding loathing for shoe shopping. None of this has made me cry in a shoe store. It's really about one, simple, horrible reality.

I can't find dress shoes that fit my feet.

I work a professional job. Right or wrong, I am seen as more competent and professional when I wear dress shoes, so that's what I wear to work. At least, that's what I was wearing until my last pair died a little while ago. Mumblemumble years ago when I last bought dress shoes, I wore 8.5WW. W stands for wide, of course. WW means even wider than a wide shoe.

After some research, I found there are no shoe shops in the Raleigh that can even order WW shoes. Like any 21st century woman, I ordered shoes two pairs of shoes online. I even followed the website's instructions for measuring my feet to confirm my shoe size. I eagerly opened the first pair when they arrived, and tried them on.

Actually, that's a lie. I was eager, but I couldn't even get my foot all the way into the shoe. Even with fresh, smooth hose on, I could get my toes in, but not my instep. I checked the shoes - they're marked 8.5WW. When the second pair arrived, I had the same experience. Neither website (I ordered one pair from each) carries shoes any wider than WW.

I have always had a hard time finding shoes, even when I was a kid, but I would eventually find something. Now my feet just aren't a part of the dress shoe universe - they're too wide.

This isn't a tragedy. I still have options. Most likely I'll try a 9WW and see if I can make that work with some padding behind the heel and/or in the toe. The logistics are totally workable. It's the sense that my body is wrong that makes this so depressing.

Logically, I know this isn't a problem with my feet. My feet are awesome - they walk, dance, run, jump, feel the ground, and even pick things up from time to time. My feet help me move through water and on the ground, and push down the blankets when the nights get warm. Sometimes I even hold a book open with my feet so I can read while I do something else with my hands. The only problem is the lack of availability of wide enough shoes - which is a problem I can solve.

The problem of feeling my body, via my feet, is somehow wrong - I've solved that by writing this blog post :)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Heart of Saturday

Like yesterday, will post a link to the pattern when I can :)

This was fun to crochet. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gratitude 20140204

~sending to PostCrossing postcards - one to Germany and one to Russia
~getting back the blog post I accidentally deleted - iPod Touch to the rescue!
~if I mail two items tomorrow, I'll be all caught up for Month of Letters
~Upgrading my town hall in Clash of Clans
~having a Starbucks gift card, letting me get a treat this afternoon
~Working on a crocheted rose heart - hopefully the finishing instructions will pull this into shape. Right now it's more a spiral mess than anything else. Still, it's an interesting approach to the shapes :)

Postal Reading Challenge: improving!

City of MasksCity of Masks by Mike Reeves-McMillan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has been a delight! Even if epistolary works aren't your preferred format, if you enjoy a good story with rich characterization that's well narrated, give this one a listen. Not only is the story engaging, the mystery is remarkably well crafted. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author :)

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Hat progress!

Knit on this Saturday and today, just binding off, weaving in ends, and blocking!  

You can just barely see the satin ribbon I ran through the live stitches so I could try it on. I love that trick :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Gratitude, Knitting, and Writing

~joining PostCrossing Will send out my first postcards once I buy the international postcard postage
~Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off
~finishing this hat

~hanging out at the main library branch has a really good mobile site for calculating postage
~Dude! There's a vertical garden outside the main branch of the public library!

~Adding gadgets to the sidebar of this blog :)
~Trying out a knit heart pattern It didn't thrill me, but was fun to try none the less
~Listening to City of Masks by Mike Reeves-McMillan. A good story so far, and very well narrated
~being given a PDF copy of The Queen of Heaven
~these excellent writing exercises from Mary Robinette Kowal
~writing practice!
Stepping through the door, she could see most of the downstairs. The front room was open, furniture lining the walls and legos strewn across the floor. A hall ran parralel to the galley kitchen, each opening into the dining area and study at the back of the townhouse. The same open plan seemed the rule in the back as well as the front, making an unintended oval track any dog or child was sure to run along at some point.
Stepping through the door, he could see the front room, part of the kitchen, and the stairs up to the bedrooms. The furniture was all pushed back against the walls, and seemed more for show than for comfort. He smiled as he glanced up the stairs, then strolled down the hall and into the study/dining area. The table was small, and very close to the kitchen. Even seated at either end, the diners would still be close to each other.

Postal Reading Challenge: off to a mediocre start

The Dracula Dossier: A Novel of SuspenseThe Dracula Dossier: A Novel of Suspense by James Reese

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Meh. I enjoyed the characterization in this book. While the plot cleverly interweaves into actual history, it's quite predictable. it's worth reading for the glimpses into the lives of literary lights of the day, but the story isn't particularly compelling.

It's almost cheating to count this for the Postal Reading Challenge. It's told from Stoker's perspective, under the conceit of being a record of a kind with the novel Dracula. While Dracula felt like a scrapbook of various accounts and journals, this is really one long narrative with letters, notes, and articles tacked in here and there. I had hoped for more.

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